Ceremonial Center of Choquequirao
Ceremonial Center of Choquequirao
The long and treacherous route from Cusco to Choquequirao likely passed by Machu Picchu, leading onto the face of Machu Picchu Peak.
From Llaqtapata, the path continued down into the Mollepata Valley, traversed the Yanamia pass at 4670 m, and continued across the Rio Blanco, finally reaching Choquequirao from above after an estimated 7- to 10-day journey.
The ceremonial center consists of a main platform and a lower plaza.
Stone lined channels carried ceremonial water, or chicha to shrines and baths throughout the site.
The main platform, unique in its size and prominence, limited ceremonial activity to royalty and the ministerial class.
This seems as such due to evidence showing that the only entrance to the platform was through a double-jam doorway, which functioned to control access to the sacred space.
Other features of the ceremonial center include structures that mark the direction of certain solar events, such as when the June and December solstice sun rises and sets.
Located in the main platform, the Giant Stairway opens to the sunrise of the December solstice.
Measured at 25 meters long and 4.4 meters wide, this structure seems to have been purely ceremonial in function, since the stairs end abruptly partway down a hill, leading to nothing.
Large boulders that rest upon the risers of the stairway become fully illuminated when the December solstice sun rises.
Ziegler and J.
McKim Malville have postulated that when the boulders become illuminated, a wak'a is activated by its solar camaquen—a case similar to when the large stone of the Torreon at Machu Picchu becomes illuminated.
In the lower plaza a group of structures were found that appeared to be water shrines and baths.
This belief is held based on their strong resemblance to those at sector II of Llaqtapata and because there are numerous water channels leading to that portion of the plaza.
Overall, it seems as though the site was chosen, as Machu Picchu was, for its sacred geographical location, and was designed to facilitate ritual and ceremonial activity.
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